Militant Mondays – Al Sharpton vs. Tavis Smiley

What happened to the good old days when it was so easy; when you wouldn’t even imagine a battle between Al Sharpton and Tavis Smiley being a fair fight. Times sure have changed…


On 2/10 Al Sharpton, Ben Jealous (President of the NAACP), and Marc H. Moiral (President and CEO of the National Urban League) visited the White House to deliver a message to ensure that President Obama kept everyone in mind when it came to a jobs creation bill. After the meeting Sharpton along with others made sure to point out that in no way were they asking the president for “race-based programs” but a job creation program “where everyone is included”. Sharpton also added, “We need to make sure that those efforts to spur job creation are equally and fairly distributed so that, when the rubber meets the road, we’re all in the car.”.


On 2/23 Tavis Smiley went on Tom Joyner’s Morning Show; during his appearance he decided to challenge Sharpton’s position on how the president should address the “Black Agenda”. Tavis went on a rant talking about how some Black Leaders have been writing a “new song” on how we should handle the “Black Agenda”. He continued to say how this “new song” was not the “songs” he was familiar with; referencing old negro spirituals.

FYI, Tavis use of the term “New Song” is in reference to a new way of promoting the “Black Agenda”. What is necessary for Black America to be successful in the United States. Of course Tavis is not in favor of this “New Song”.

Tavis continued to promote that we all need to get together using the analogy that we needed to have a “choir practice” (panel discussion) with all Black Leaders together. He explains that we all need to get on the same page and have the same message. That we should not be afraid to challenge the president to address the “Black Agenda”; this “choir practice” would occur at an event that Tavis was putting together later on this month in Chicago. He wrapped up his rant/promo by listing several prominent Black Leaders that have been invited; Sharpton, Charles Ogletree, Michael Eric Dyson, Dr Cornel West, Minister Farrakhan etc….

So what are my thoughts about all of this?

Well, I am a supporter of Tavis Smiley and I think he is a good person that means the very best for people of color; but I have to admit that he is wrong! The mistake Tavis makes is that in his haste to regain relevance in the Black Community his issue with Al Sharpton and others who attended the meeting at the White House is inaccurate. He uses a New York Times article that was written 2 days before Sharpton and others attend the meeting at the White House. As i noted earlier in this posting Sharpton and others emerged from that meeting with he following comments:

“race-based programs” but a job creation program “where everyone is included”. Sharpton also added, “We need to make sure that those efforts to spur job creation are equally and fairly distributed so that, when the rubber meets the road, we’re all in the car.”.

If Tavis had been paying attention he would have noticed that Sharpton’s comments are aligned with the message that he has always promoted, it is a message similar to the one in his book “Accountability”. Tavis is a better person than the guy I heard on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Al Sharpton Radio Show. Before he can move forward Tavis owes Al Sharpton, Ben Jealous, and Marc Morial an apology for his reckless portrayal of these men as selling out the “Black Agenda”. Mr. Smiley must always remember it is not about an individual it is the cause and how that cause fits in the grand scheme of the bigger picture.

As for Al Sharpton, he is not without some fault here. In order for Black people to move forward we will need all hands on deck. I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge fan of Sharpton. I will forever have the image of Tawana Brawley and a jogging suit wearing reverend with a perm. Say what you want about Al but he has made himself into a somewhat respectable leader (in my opinion); but Sharpton cannot forget where he came from and those who supported him (including Smiley). It was last year that Sharpton supported Tavis as he was labeled a hater when he criticized then Presidential Candidate Obama for not attending The State of the Black Union. So for Sharpton to now talk about Tavis and take shots at him about his past criticisms of the President is unfair.

Both men need to stop the attacks and talk to each other, no need for the cameras to be present. Last week both men referred to each other as brothers and expressed love for one another. If that is the case they need to start showing that love; stop airing the dirty laundry. This is exactly what the media wants, with each passing day the media continues to pen story after story about Black America not being happy with what the president is doing for them. Instead of feeding into this selfishness and trying to protect bruised egos the 2 of them need to be promoting the same message.

Black America needs the United States of America just as much as the United States of America needs Black America to succeed; one cannot succeed without the other!

Before I go I have one last comment; Tom Joyner stop your shuckin’ and jivin’! You falsely reported to Al Sharpton that Tavis said he had Sharpton as a confirmed guest for his event in Chicago. I listened to the audio and Tavis never said that, he said he had invited people like Al Sharpton and others; never stated they were confirmed. We don’t need you instigating shit between Al and Tavis so you can help boost your ratings!

As always….
If there is something to be said, “It’s On Broadway” to step up and say it!!!